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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I did a search and couldn't find one similar to this, but this whole site is still kind of confusing to me with all the different topics, sub topics, sub sub topics..... anyway, we currently have a one y/o female lab/pit mix (we believe, she's the pup of a shelter rescue dog) that is really sweet and good with our kids and other people. She is my wife's dog. In March I will be getting "my" female GSD pup and have a couple questions about the pack structure. My wife's dog is obviously more attached to her, but we are just learning about the importance of us being pack leaders. My question is, can only one of us (my wife or I) be the leader or can her dog see her as her leader and me of the other dog? As I type this I realize it sounds like a silly question and I'm pretty sure the answer is that the leader is the leader of all.
My next question is about their rank amongst each other. Do we just let them "work it out" naturally (obviously no fighting allowed) or will the "established" pack member be a higher rank just because she's already part of the family? I'm assuming whichever dog has it in them more will be the higher rank, I'm just looking for confirmation, I guess. Thanks in advance!
 

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This is a tricky question, hopefully this thread will fill up with lots of ideas and opinions to help you along.

What I have gleaned from a few books by canine behavior specialists has been a bit contradictory, with some areas of overlap as well. The one aspect that most "experts" seem to agree on is that ALL humans need to be viewed as leader or potential leader. In other words, primates are in control of the house, the canines are there at the mercy and benefit of the mammals with opposable thumbs. All the people, not just one.

A good book on explaing how and why dogs do what they do is:

The Other End of the Leash-Why we do what we do around dogs. By Patricia McConnell. Not horribly dry and in plain enough english to figure out quickly. Her basic premise is that dogs will fill the leader role when forced into the position by an owner that does not lead. Knowing the ques and signs that a dog looks for as leadership and then filling those roles sticks you in a position that most dogs are more than happy to leave to someone else. Boils down to being a strong leader figure, a figure that instills calm and takes charge of situations. I picked upa few signals from my GSD that showed me I was slacking in some areas. Lots is common sense, although some very very important bits are hard to spot as dogs don't speak english and humans are horrible at doginise.
 

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That makes sense. I wasn't sure if they would see one person as being more of the boss than others, but yeah I guess the important part is they know they aren't the leader. I ordered The Other End of the Leash yesterday, so hopefully it'll help. The more I learn about interpreting dog behavior and communication signals, the more interested I get. :p
Thanks!!
 

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I wanted to mention first that a lot of the stuff you will read about being an "alpha" or how to be alpha is unnecessary and in some cases dangerous. I also don't believe dogs view humans as another dog (pack member/alpha) Some people seem to think our dogs are just plotting to "overthrow" us but I don't think that is true.
Here is a good article on this topic:
Debunking the Dominance Myth - Dog Public

That said, both dogs should be able to obey both you and your wife equally. although each could be more 'attached' to one or the other of you. To be sure that they will respond to both of you, you both need to work with the dogs and train with them and you should make sure that you agree on your dogs' "house rules" and training methods so both of you are expecting the same rules followed and using the same methods to avoid confusing them. If you attend training classes-- and I'd highly recommend getting your puppy into a "puppy kindergarten" class right away-- it is helpful if you both can attend the class or if not, have the person who attends describe each session so both of you can work on the "homework" each week.

Also just wanted to comment, two females (especially with those breeds) would not be my first choice for house-mates...
 
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